NRL launches Women in League Round

Rugby League today launched its fourth annual tribute to the 40,000 dedicated female volunteers, employees and officials who are the heart of the game, with 10,000 reasons for everyone to sit up and take notice.

NRL Chief Executive, David Gallop, today joined women from across the game, Women in League charity partner the McGrath Foundation and NRL players in highlighting the role women play in Rugby League and in calling for more women to be included on company boards and senior management.

Highlighting the fact that gender diversity is an issue for both men and women, Mr Gallop announced that the NRL and the McGrath Foundation are launching a challenge for 10,000 Australian men and women to become ‘breast aware’ - breaking down the stereotype that breast cancer is a women’s only issue - by registering at www.rloc.com.au or www.mcgrathfoundation.com.au.

The Harvey Norman Women in League Round kicks off on June 25 (Round 16) with four weeks of Harvey Norman Women in League events commencing this weekend, with the Roosters paying tribute to women in sport.

In addition to the Round itself, throughout June, female volunteers and administrators will gather at Harvey Norman Women in League functions in Rockhampton (June 8), Dubbo (June 17), Sydney (June 23) and Auckland (June 30), with players joining more than 700 women from all areas of Rugby League at the four events.

“Women are a part of the game all year round but the next few weeks provide us all with an opportunity to highlight their contribution to Rugby League,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“It is a chance to say thanks to some dedicated volunteers and employees, to promote ideas and to discuss opportunities.

“Increasingly, we are seeing women in senior positions and on boards and the concept of gender diversity in Rugby League is being encouraged.

“So too is the role of families in Rugby League and the reality that around half of all fans are of course women who simply enjoy being a part of the game.

“This is the fourth year we have promoted the Women in League Round and as well as supporting a great cause in the McGrath Foundation, it is a chance to promote the role women can, and do, play in Rugby League.”

Today’s Harvey Norman Women in League launch at ANZ Stadium saw David Williams from the Manly Sea Eagles, Michael Jennings and Lachlan Coote from the Penrith Panthers, and Peni Tagive from the St George Illawarra Dragons all on hand to showcase the pink uniforms they will wear as acknowledgment of the women who have supported them in their playing careers.

Other faces in the crowd included female board members and Women in League Ambassadors from the NRL Clubs, female development officers, Panthers cheerleaders and 12 players from the Under-6 all girls side, the Kellyville Princesses, the Bulldogs’ Ben Roberts and Corey Payne, the Rabbitohs’ Jason Clark, Wests Tigers’ Tame Tupou and NRL Referees Gavin Badger and Alan Shortall.

Harvey Norman Women in League is the brainchild of Harvey Norman Managing Director and NRL Board Member, Katie Page.

“Harvey Norman Women in League is about paying tribute to the 40,000 female volunteers who ensure the game of Rugby League continues to thrive,” Ms Page said.

“The Women in League Round acts as a reminder that the brilliance we see on the field is supported by the comprehensive efforts of women in the game.

“This round gives us the chance to thank all of those women in official and unofficial roles both on and off the field – from the more than 280,000 women and girls involved in ARL Development programs and playing competitions, to the 2,400 registered coaches, over 450 referees and 2,000 first aid officers.

“It is also thanking the women who drive to training and to away games, to those who run the canteen or the office and those who cheer from the sidelines no matter what the conditions.”

Commenting further on the initiative, Tracy Bevan, Executive Director at the McGrath Foundation said the charity couldn’t be prouder to be involved with the Harvey Norman Women in League Round.

“Jane used to always say that it takes a real man to wear pink – and he’s usually supported or encouraged by an amazing woman!,” Ms Bevan said today.

“With this as our mantra, we have never doubted that Rugby League was a sport that we had so much in common with.”

Today also saw the announcement of the nominations for the second annual Women in League Favourite Son Award.

The Award acknowledges a player who acts as a true role model to younger players, and whose off-field characteristics embody the true values of the Rugby League community, with the inaugural award won by Hazem El Masri last year.

This year’s nominees are:

Player

Club

Andrew Ryan

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Darren Lockyer

Brisbane Broncos

Nathan Hindmarsh

Parramatta Eels

Alan Tongue

Canberra Raiders

Trent Barrett

Cronulla Sharks

Preston Campbell

Gold Coast Titans

Petero Civoniceva

Penrith Panthers

Braith Anasta

Sydney Roosters

The Women in League Favourite Son Award will be chosen by female fans and volunteers and announced at the Sydney Women in League event on June 23.

The Women in League Round (Round 16, June 25-28) will see a variety of activities for game day including:

- The Panthers once again transforming themselves into the Pink Panthers with a full pink kit; the Dragons’ traditional Red V being morphed pink; Manly, Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters all wearing pink jerseys. Fans will be able to purchase these modified jerseys through Rebel and NRL Club stores.
- The Eels staff, mascots, ball boys, and volunteers also wearing a touch of pink; and the Canberra Raiders wearing pink socks.
- Games in the Round will be played with pink match balls (except the Panthers v Sea Eagles match) which will be auctioned off after Round 16 to raise money for the McGrath Foundation.
- Women in League Tattoos will be handed out at matches.
- McGrath Foundation pink scarves will be sold through both the Foundation website prior to the Round but also by volunteers at some grounds.
- Women in League video presented on the big screen at each game.

Over the next four weeks, clubs will rally behind Harvey Norman Women in League through a number of celebrations including:
- The Raiders hosting a junior girls rugby league mini match on game day.
- The Sea Eagles celebrating the grass-roots women of the game in their function named “Warringah Mall Eagles Angles supporting our Manly Women in League”.
- Parramatta holding an ‘Eels in Heels’ private screening of Sex and the City 2.
- The Panthers cooking in pink as part of a champagne pre-match event.
- The Dragons hosting a Ladies Day at the Footy for their special ladies.
- Wests Tigers holding a morning tea to thank their female members.
- The Broncos hosting 100 female volunteers at their Round 15 game.
- The Knights holding their fourth annual Women in League event on June 25.
- The Bulldogs conducted a major gala luncheon at Doltone House leading into their Round 10 match.

This year, each NRL Club will also select a Women in League Ambassador, with the following ambassadors already nominated:

Club

WIL Ambassador

Parramatta Eels

Fiona Hindmarsh (Nathan Hindmarsh’s mother)

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Anna Cesarano (Young business woman)

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Jennifer O’Brien (Community manager)

Newcastle Knights

Catherine Britt (Country music singer)

Melbourne Storm

Nicole Livingstone (former swimmer)

Penrith Panthers

Diane Langmack (Community manager)

Manly Sea Eagles

Sue Alder (Manly gear steward)

Cronulla Sharks

Trish Douglas (House mother and Luke Douglas’ mother)

St George Illawarra Dragons

Elizabeth Kingston (runs Crystal Bears)

North Queensland Cowboys

Fiona Pelling (Community manager)

New Zealand Warriors

Petrece Kesha (Community manager)

Wests Tigers

Belinda O’Neil (Wife of former player Mark O’Neil)

Canberra Raiders

Barbara Pfeiffer (First Aid Coordinator for Raiders at grass-roots level)

NRL

Trish Crews (Director of Community Relations at NRL)